§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment proposed [17th June] on consideration of the Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), which Amendment was: In page 4. line 21, to leave out Clause 9.—(Mr. Harwood.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words of the clause to the end of line 25 stand part of the Bill."
§ (9.0.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he was prepared to relinquish his right to speak on this matter if the Home Secretary would take a reasonable view with regard to this Bill. He understood, however, that the right hon. Gentleman was determined to pursue his rash and foolish course of action, and he therefore desired to state his reasons for thinking that the Amendment was one deserving of the support of the majority of the House. No doubt his observations would prove equally distasteful to the two extreme 102 sections of the House—to those in favour of what he might call coercive temperance legislation and to those who were against any interference of any kind whatever with the drink traffic. The House was rather too much in the habit of taking the extreme views of political partisans as the basis of legislation, and such a policy was particularly dangerous in regard to legislation affecting the social habits of the people. He would like to utter one word of warning on this subject. The views of the teetotal party and the views of the drink trade—two extreme parties which sometimes joined in what he might without disrespect call a somewhat unholy alliances—were riot alone entitled to consideration. Not very long since, a Bill passed through all its stages in the House relating to his own country, for the purpose of preventing the grant of further licences for a period of five years. He did not oppose that Bill, because nearly all the Members of his Party were in favour of it, but still he held that it I was a measure entirely hostile to the public interest, because it further established an already existing monopoly to the detriment of the interests of the public. The clause they had now before them was another instance of that unholy alliance between the extreme partisans on both sides. It was too often imagined that only two interests were concerned in this question—the trade on the one side and the teetotal interest on the other. There was, however, a third party, and that was the public, whose interests ought to have greater weight with Members of the House than the interests of the extremists on the one side or the other. It was thought on the one side that the clause of the hon. Member for Bolton 103 was in the interest of the trade, and the temperance party also claimed it in their interest, but he believed that it was derogatory of the interests of the State and the public. Legislation proposing to diminish the supply of liquor attracted the support of the temperance party—though for his own part he thought it was necessary to diminish the demand rather than the supply—and at the same time it strengthened the vested interest in the drink trade by increasing monopoly. But temperance reformers in this respect were beginning at the wrong end. The evils of drink did not arise from good drink, but from bad drink. Bad liquor produced crime, and if only good liquor were sold the amount of crime would be less. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division dissented from that statement — [Mr. WHITTAKER: Hear, hear!]—and the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall, with his robust presence, had entered the House be support that view, but as neither hon. Member knew the difference between Glenlivet, Jameson, Persee, and other kinds of whisky, they were at once placed out of court as judges in this matter. Whenever a proposal was brought before the House to diminish the supply, the temperance I party at once approved it. In that they were wrong.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said that was I not the language of the philosopher or student. The fact was that the demand created the supply, and he wished to point out the fallacy of the policy which led to the capture of the temperance party whenever any legislation was proposed which seemed calculated to diminish the supply. Such proposals, of course, exactly suited the purposes of the trade, for the more the supply was diminished the more was the monopoly increased and the stronger became the vested interests of the drink trade. That was how this clause came into existence. There were two parties on the Licensing Commission, with an intermediate body. But when sensible Englishmen found themselves between two extremes, they were racially 104 and traditionally compelled to agree to a compromise. Consequently, when they I found the temperance party on the one side and the trade on the other united on a certain point, they at once thought the proposition indisputably proved, and gave it their support. Thus the unholy alliance worked against temperance, in the supposed interest of the temperance party and in the real interests of the drink trade, to the disadvantage of the public, by increasing the monopoly. What was the position of grocers' licences? It was the one bit of free trade left in the traffic. Of course, that would not be regarded by some as an argument in its favour. But look at the case of Liverpool. The Home Secretary cheered that observation. There was no such fanaticism as that of a convert, and the Home Secretary was a powerful, and, no doubt, a very genuine convert. In Liverpool it was free trade in liquor supplied on the premises; it was free trade in public houses; and they had no right to apply the same testto grocers' licences, which forbade the consumption of liquor on the premises. The merit of the grocer's licence was that it allowed competition: if a customer got a bottle of bad liquor at one shop he would go to another, and that fact alone compelled the sale of the good liquor instead of the bad liquor. Bad liquor was very much the parent of vice and crime, and if they abolished this last remnant of free trade, what would happen? There would be no guarantee of the goodness of the liquor, and secondly grocers' shops would be in the same position as public houses, and another monopoly, another system of tied houses, would be created. Let them remember how grocers' licences came into existence. They were brought in by Mr. Gladstone, and certainly that right hon. Gentleman's forecast had been justified by events. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Refreshment Houses and Wine Licences Bill, said that, although fiscal considerations formed the immediate necessity for the measure, it was not based solely on fiscal grounds. It was a wise and good measure, not only as regarded the comfort of the people, but also in respect of the promotion of temperance and sobriety as opposed to drunken and demoralised habits. It 105 was as a measure of temperance that Mr. Gladstone defended the institution of grocers' licences, and ho himself was defending it as such that day. As a matter of fact, the grocer's licence was created contemporaneously with the Commercial Treaty with France, which introduced cheap French wines for the first time into this country in large quantities. That he believed to he a good thing, for if they taught a large number of people to prefer light wines to the strong, poisonous whisky now too often sold, it would be a movement in the direction of temperance. The grocer's licence enabled the humblest man in the land to get at a reasonable price a good bottle of mild, pure, French wine. It enabled people to get it without going into a public house for it. He put it to hon. Members: if people wanted to get drink for home supply, was it better they should get it from the grocer's shop or from the public house? There could be only one answer to that question. In the grocer's shop there were none of the poisonous and demoralising surroundings which too often characterised the public house. This was the first time a great trade had been attacked in Parliament without cause shown. Mr. Gladstone, to his dying day, was in favour of grocers' licences. He regarded the introduction of cheap French wines into this country as a legislative act which had been justified by the good results, and yet so blind were the ultra-temperance party to the true interests of temperance that they proposed to separate the liquor traffic from the grocers' licences. Sir Algernon West, who was most intimately associated with Mr. Gladstone, was a member of the Royal Commission on the Licensing Laws, and ho had recently written an article in the Nineteenth Century, in which he said—The first serious difference of opinion arose on Lord Peel's proposal for the separation of the trades, which was tantamount to the abolition of what are popularly known in this country as grocers' licences. Now, lam sorry to say that I was old enough to recollect the origin by Mr. Gladstone in 1860. His object in establishing them was in the interest of sobriety, to make it unnecessary for any one requiring a bottle of wine or spirits to enter a public house, and he had also in view the encouragement, in this country of the consumption of the light wines of "France, in the pace of spirits or the heavier and more in taxicating wines of other countries. These 106 licences have been an unqualified success, and no untainted evidence, I thought, had been produced to the contrary. Ever since their establishment thirty-nine years ago, there had not been single complaint made of them to the Hoard of Inland Revenue, and, consequently, not a single prosecution had been taken against the so-called grocers for any infringement of the Excise Laws.Here they had a respectable body of I traders against whom no complaint had been made for thirty-nine years: and I without any case having been made out I against them, or any complaint from the Revenue, tin; Home Secretary, who had all the fanaticism of a convert, was, without the slightest warning, going to disorganise and imperil the whole trade. Sometimes a woman inclined to drink was able to supply her wants at the-grocer's shop, but from isolated cases of this kind they had no right to interfere, as they desired to do, with the grocers' licences. A drunken woman was a very strange horrible phenomenon in our social life. It was very hard to discover how she got her drink. It might be at the confectioner's, or even at the chemist? where she obtained some form of unholy narcotic. She might even get it by a subterfuge at the grocer's shop, but still the whole trade should not be imperilled because of such cases. It could not be said that any increase of intemperance could be attributed to the system of grocers' licences. Sir Harry Poland, one of the highest of licensing authorities, had expressed himself strongly against any interference with grocers' licences, while the late Sir John Bridge declared he did not believe the statement that women had a facility for getting drink connected with the purchase of food and other articles purchased otherwise than at a public house.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said that his hon. friend the Member for South Belfast had the irrelevant mind of all fanatics on this question. If he was quoting, in the handy form of the pamphlet, evidence given before the Royal Commission, the question was not what he was quoting from, but whether the evidence was given or not. He might observe that Sir Algernon West was as good a Liberal as any man in the House, and he himself claimed 107 to be as liberal as any hon. Member. Then there was the evidence" Of Mr. G. Crispe Whiteley, Clerk to the Justices of the Newington Division of London, a personal friend of his own, and a sound, honest, upright, energetic Liberal. There were 441 "off" licenses in that district, and Mr. Whiteley was asked—Can you tell us whether they have been a cause of disatisfaction in any way, or whether any particular complaint has come to your knowledge, arising out of that system of trading?The answer was—No, none whatever; complaints against 'off' licenses are extremely rare.Then Dr. Lawson Tait was asked a similar question, and his answer was—I know nothing of the kind.He believed that there was no exception to the evidence that the grocers' licences had acted well; and that no complaint had been made against them. He would now refer to the evidence of the police officials. Mr. Malcolm Wood, Chief Constable of Manchester, was asked—Have the police had any difficulty with those 551 "off" licences?The answer was—No, we have had no difficulty whatever with them.His hon. friend said that Mr. Wood was sacked; but was it because of anything that was incorrect in his evidence? because that was the only relevant question. Next, there was the evidence of Captain Nott-Bower, who, his hon. friend informed him, had been promoted. He was asked—As far as you can form an opinion, have the police any idea if the trade done under those licences has in any way conduced to drunkenness?The answer was—No, I do not think it has. I have made many inquiries about it and I have found that the police almost universally consider that it has not.Then the question was put—I am told that during twenty-five years—this comes from the resident 'off' licence holders—they have only known three cases of wine and spirit-selling grocers being summoned, and these were for keeping open late on Saturday night and Christmas Eve. Do you think that that would be a fair statement of the case?Captain Nott-Bower answered—I should think it probably would be.He would not weary the House with further quotations, but be could quote from Lord Kimberley, the late Archbishop of York, and The Times newspaper. 108 The last quotation he would give was from the Dally News. [An HON. MEMBER: Oh!] He did not see why hon. Members should protest against the Daily News. It was a very admirable and able organ of the Liberal Party, and it took up the Liberal view in regard to this question. It said:—For moderate, self restraining, respectable people, the grocer's supply of drink is just the ideal thing. It is an economical system of distribution, and it is very convenient; and—what is a very important consideration—it involves no monopoly.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said that the curiosity of his hon. friend was extraordinary. The date was the 16th of January, 1902; which he thought was within the period in which the Daily News had the advantage of the political assistance of his hon. friend. The change of managership and ownership which had occurred since had not been in the direction of any diminution of regard for the temperance cause, for the present proprietor of the Daily News was one of the greatest advocates of temperance reform in the country. He begged the House to abstain from creating a further monopoly, and further tied houses. Already coming events were casting their shadows before, and if the clause were passed every grocer would hold his licence at the discretion of the justices. Tha meant uncertainity.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said his hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone thought that uncertainty was desirable, but he thought it was very undesirable, because it struck at free trade and free competition, which were absolutely essential in the interests of the public. Some justices were just and reasonable, but did any one suppose that, if his hon. friend the Member for the Spen Valley, or men like him, were on the Bench, they would not use every power at their disposal to diminish grocers' licences? He did not blame them, but he thought they were misguided. He said nothing about the inconvenience to the 109 public; but if the Clause wore passed it would give grocers' licence a monopoly value they did not now possess. At present a grocer's licence had no particular value. But what would be the effect of the clause if passed? He had heard of a landlord who had already refused to renew a lease unless he got an increase if rout, on the ground that a monopoly value was to he given to the house. He appealed to the moderate section of the House to way that free competition and freedom from monopoly should be pre served, and that one more vested interest should not be added to existing monopolies.
§ (9.40.) MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said that when he Bill was before the Standing Committee he moved the rejection of the clause, but was fairly beaten on that occasion. He felt however, that the clause ought not to be in the Hill, but, in supporting the Amendment, be was not in the least opposed to the Bill as a whole, or to temperance reform. He was sun that his right hon. friend would admit that lie had done all he could in Committee to strengthen the Bill in the direction of temperance. He felt, however, that the clause now under discussion was not in the least calculated to promote temperance: and he believed that it would work, great deal of injustice, on which no adequate reason had been given to the House. The hon. Member who moved the omission of the clause and the hon. Member who had just Spoken, objected to it mainly on the ground that it would create another monopoly. He quite agreed with that, and would regret that another monopoly should be added to the existing monopolies, which were one to the worst features of she drink traffic. He opposed the clause also because it would inflict great injustice on the existing licence holders. It might be said that I he two positions were inconsistent but he ventured to say they were not it might be said that grocers whose licences were preserved would gain by the clause but grocers who had their licences taken away for no just reason and without compensation would suffer very great injustice. They would increase the value of one set of licences at the expense of another set and that he could not regard as just. What was the reason put forward by the Home Secretary in 110 support of the clause? He said that they should place all the various licences under one system; and he attacked a trade which had been carried on for thirty years without any evidence being produced that is had been attended with the slightest harm. There were pienty of old women's stories about the harm done by grocers' licences but he asked hon. Members who supported the clause to point to any evidence given before the Royal Commission, showing that any damage resulted from them. Why, therefore, was such a great change proposed in the conditions under which the trade has been carried on? His right hon. friend said that there was little fear that the existing licences would be taken away if the clause were passed He was not so sure of that. There were, as his hon. friend had said, justices and justices. There were justices who administered the law fairly and properly and who would not wish to interfere with the trade unless there were some real cause; but there were, other justices who, with the best motives, were influenced by preconceived opinions, and who would take every opportunity of interfering with the trade. He would ask his right hon. friend whether his attention had been called to a remarkable statement which had recently been made by a Southport magistrate, who said that when the Licensing Bill was passed no more grocers' licences would be granted in Southport and that a great number of the existing licences would be taken away. That was the spirit in which some justices would approach the matter if the clause were passed. He asked what guarantee was there that people who had been carrying on a perfectly legitimate trade from which no abuse was shown to result, would not lose their business without any compensation, simply and solely through the action of the House of Commons in foreign this clause through. Then his right hon. friend said that unless the clause were passed there would be an undue multiplication of grocers' licences. Was the Home Secretary aware how much it cost to take out. a grocer s licences? The smallest sum was £16, and generally it was £24; and it was most improbable that these licences would be increased to any very large extent, because the cost was prohibitive; and 111 certainly they would not increase beyond the point at which the trade was remunerative. If the Home Secretary would look at the figures he would find that these licences had not outstepped the increase of population during the thirty years they had been in existence. His right hon. friend relied largely on the fact that the one representative of the "off" licence holders on the Royal Commission, Mr. Grenling, voted for the recommendation which placed grocers' licences under the same control as other licences. But Mr. Grenling voted for that as part of the whole of the majority Report; and he voted on the clear understanding that if a grocer's licence were taken away for any cause except misconduct, there should be compensation. On page 52 of the Report it was stated:—The scheme to be described presently includes in the scope of its operations all retail licences, i.e., 'off as well as 'on,' as contributories to the compensation fund and as liable to suppression under this scheme. This appears to be both desirable in itself and necessary to the satisfactory working of the reduction proposals.Why should those licences contribute to the compensation fund, if they were to be taken away without any compensation? The intention of the Commission was that those licences should share in the compensation fund; but the Home Secretary now proposed to change the whole character under which the trade was carried on, and to make grocers liable to the loss of their licences without any misconduct on their part, and without any compensation. Although he was a loyal supporter of the Government, he could not vote for the clause, because he thought it was quite uncalled for and inequitable, and that it would do injustice to a class of people who had carried on a perfectly legal business in a perfectly proper manner.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he had listened with great interest to the speech of his hon. friend the Member for the Scotland Division, but he wished to call his attention to a place called Ireland, and would give his actual experiences in the matter. He spoke for the benefit of his Irish friends on the other side of the House, who might be temporarily misled by 112 his hon. friend. Twenty years ago a grocer's licence in Ireland was exactly in the same position as such a licence was in England today. It was a purely Excise licence, and anyone could get it by paying a certain amount of money at the Custom House. The results became perfectly intolerable, and in 1900 a Bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament, with the full assent of the Irish representation in this House, and the Irish peers in the House of Lords, placing these "off" licences entirely under the control of the magistrates. That legislation cured a monstrous evil, and no one in Ireland had anything but good to say of it. No Irish Member would dream of proposing that that measure should be repealed. He merely rose in order to prevent his Irish friends from being misled by the eloquence of his hon. friend the Member for the Scotland Division, who, in the absence of the Irish Leader, was leading the Irish party. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR dissented.] He hoped the Home Secretary would stand firm to the clause.
§ *(9.55.) MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R., Spen Valley)
said the clause was inserted in the Bill upon the unanimous recommendation of a Commission comprising all classes of the community. The position of the law with regard to the discretion of magistrates in relation to off-licences was at present in a state of confusion. Retail beer dealers holding off-licences were subject to the full discretion of the justices; spirit dealers with retail off-licences, if no other trade were carried on on the premises, were subject to no discretion, but if dealing in anything else were subject to a limited discretion; wine dealers retailing under an off-licence were not under any discretion, whilst beer retailers with an ordinary off-licence were under the full discretion of the magistrates, and, again, the justices had a limited discretion over spirit and wine retailers with an ordinary off-licence. It would thus be seen that an extremely inconsistent and illogical state of things prevailed with regard to off-licences. The Commission recommended that they should all be put on the same footing. The exemption of grocers' licences was not a specially-made exemption: it was a relic of a general rule. The practice of the House for the 113 last thirty years had been gradually to abolish the exemption of off-licences from the discretion of the justices. Prior to 1869 every off-licence was free so far as the justices' discretion was concerned. In that year the House gave the magistrates a certain limited discretion over wine and other licences, and in 1872 that discretion was extended to spirits and sweets. In 1880 they were given full discretion over beer dealers' retail licences, and in 1882, under the inspiration of the present Home Secretary, the justices were given full discretion over beer retailers' ordinary off-licences. The suggestion of this Bill was practically to put the remaining off-licences under the control of the justices. That was the unanimous recommendation of the Commission. The hon. Member for Tunbridge had suggested that this was part of a complete scheme with a re-constituted licensing authority, and was signed by the representative of the off-licence trade as such. But that gentleman made no such reservation, although it would have been quite easy for him to have affixed a foot-note to that effect. But even if it had been so, the re-constituted licensing authority would in all probability be a much more vigorous authority than the present, and be far more likely to deal strictly with these licences. This clause was carried upstairs by a majority of three to one. Reference had been made to the Report of the House of Lords Committee, which was 23 years old. Why go behind the Report of the Royal Commission on Licensing, which was unanimous in this matter and was a much more recent and important body? He admitted that the present system of licensing was unsatisfactory, but it was better than free trade. Liverpool tried free trade and found it disastrous. But in Liverpool of recent years there had been a substantial reduction in the number of licensed-houses, with the most satisfactory results. No really responsible person who understood the question was prepared to advocate free trade. Then it should be remembered that a large number of Benches of magistrates had passed resolutions asking that they should have this power conferred upon them, and he was surprised at the suspicion which was entertained of them in these matters. If they were of the character indicated they ought not to have control over any licences at all. Was it to be understood that only unsatisfactory licences 114 were to be under the control of the justices? That was a dangerous argument and would be a reflection on those licences which were already under their full discretion. The legislation of Mr. Gladstone had failed to accomplish what Mr. Gladstone desired, for the result had been that not only had the consumption of wine increased, but that of spirits had done so enormously. They had not diminished the consumption of spirits or beer by increasing the consumption of wine. They were told that it would give a monopoly value to these licences. That was inseparable from our policy of restriction. He admitted that the present system of licensing was not good, but these restrictions were better than no restrictions at all. Control involved monopoly. It was a choice of evils, but the position was clear that they must either have free trade or control, and if they had control they could not get rid of monopoly. The hon. Member for Tunbridge suggested that the majority Report of the Royal Commission recommended that discretion should not be given with regard to these off-licences unless compensation was arranged for. The hon. Member evidently had misunderstood the Report. That was a recommendation with regard to a special reduction scheme, by which they would buy these additional licences out, but it had nothing to do with the ordinary action of the magistrate. The Royal Commission recommended that these licences should be in the full discretion of the justices, and there was no reference to compensation except in regard to the special reduction scheme, and the hon. Member must have misunderstood the recommendation. This was not a question whether they would have these licences or public-houses, but whether they would have these licences as well as public-houses. He would also remind the House that putting these off-licences under the control of the justices did not necessarily mean abolishing them.
If it were true that these grocers licences were so exceptionally convenient and desirable, and were so exceptionally respectable, surely the House could have sufficient confidence to allow the magistrates to control them, seeing that hon. Members believed that so little evil resulted from them. Surely such arguments as those would have weight with 115 any licensing Bench, and the magistrates would not be likely under those circumstances to abolish such licences. If there were licences which the licensing justices desired to do away with, they were now asked to prevent the justices from having power to get rid of licences which they thought were undesirable and injurious. In his opinion if there were any licences which the magistrates thought were undesirable they ought to have the power to get rid of them. He would remind hon. members that these grocers' licences enabled them to sell spirits as well as wine. While riding down to the City upon the "Twopenny Tube" he had been particularly struck with one advertisement of Gilbey's, announcing that they had no less than 3,000 agents selling a particular brand of Scotch whisky, and that would give them an idea of the nature of this trade.
The off-beer licences were under the full control of the justices, and as they were given control over the sale of beer in this way, they should have the same control over spirits and wines. No inconvenience had resulted from the justices having control of the beer licences, and this proposal was to give them the same control over spirits and wine as they had over beer. He contended that additional facilities for the sale of intoxicating liquors were undoubtedly a temptation, and the real danger of these grocers' licences was that they placed the temptation to buy liquor in the way of a great number of women who would not go to public-houses to buy liquor. It had been said that no case had been made out against grocers' licences, but in his opinion the case made out against them was an extremely strong one. It had been said that there had been no complaints at the Inland Revenue about these licences, but they did not expect to find complaints in that quarter. They had also been told that no evidence against them had been given in the police courts, and that the evidence given by magistrates and constables was not against these licences. In his opinion these were not the people who saw the evil of these licences. The drinking did not take place in grocers' shops, but it took place in the home, and that was where the real injury was done. The 116 great increase of drunkenness in women had been caused by grocers' licences, and this statement was borne out by the evidence of clergymen and ministers and medical men who went into the homes of the people. It was mostly among the middle and upper classes that this evil existed.
§ * Mr. WHITTAKER
said that it was given by solicitors, keepers of inebriate homes and others, but of course it was difficult to get people to come forward to give detailed evidence of this kind, because it was too confidential. Could they expect a clergyman to go into the chair and expose what he had heard in private homes; or could they expect a medical man to tell what he had seen in those homes? Facilities for ordering drink exsited in regard to these licences which did not exist in connection with public-houses. The increase in the death-rate of women from intemperance was a very serious thing indeed. During the last twenty-five years the Registrar - General had given the death-rate from intemperance, and the figures were very remarkable, for they showed that the death-rate from intemperance had increased amongst all classes of the community. It might be said that this was largely due to improved diagnosis, but that would apply to the death-rate of both men and women, whereas there had been an enormous increase in the number of deaths from intemperance amongst women as compared with men. In the five years from 1875 to 1879 the death-rate amongst men from intemperance was 65 per million, and in 1895 to 1899 the average was 96 per 1,000,000, or an increase of 48 per cent. Amongst women the increase was from 24 per 1,000,000 in 1875–79 to 58 per 1,000.000, in the period between 1895 and 1899. That was an increase in the death rate from intemperance amongst women of 141 per cent., as compared with an increase of 48 per cent. in the death rate among men. That was a proof that there had been a great increase of drunkenness amongst women, and he should like hon. Members opposite 117 to account for that increase in any other way than by the facilities which had been afforded for drinking by means of grocers' licences. Those were terrible facts, borne out by hetestimony of medical men and keepers of inebriate homes. This Licensing Commission said there was a gigantic evil existing in their midst, which was a national degradation, and they declared that scarcely any sacrifice would be too great in order to cope with this evil. One unanimous recommendation of that Commission was that the justices should be given the control of these licences, and, therefore, he asked the House to support the most recent Commission in one of the most important recommendations they had made.
§ Mr. DISRAELI
said he had before followed the Member for Spen Valley in this Debate, and he hoped the hon. Member would not think him presumptuous when he said that he should always like to follow him when he used the same arguments. The Commission he had referred to took no evidence upon the points upon which the hon. Member had based his speech. Over and over again he had said that grocers' licences were responsible for the increased drinking amongst men and women. The hon. Member had not given them the slightest reason for that statement, and they would look in vain in the Report of the Royal Commission for evidence to bear out such a statement. He did not want to found his speech upon evidence concocted from the hearsay of different people.
§ Mr. DISRAELI
said he could not take his Parliamentary manners from the hon. Member for East Clare. The hon. Member for Spen Valley had ignored the Report of the House of Lords Committee of 1879. That Committee examined many witnesses, and the conclusion they came to was that, on the whole, there was no sufficient ground for specially connecting intemperance with the retailing of spirits in shops, as contrasted with their retailing on other licensed premises. It 118 was perfectly true that this conclusion was come to 23 years ago, but there had been no change in the condition of things since that time which at all vitiated the force of that declaration. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had indulged in a few remarks which, in his opinion, might have been omitted, because this Bill did not deal at all with Ireland. The whole case for putting these licences under the justices must depend on one of two things—either that the licences had been abused, or that there was a great public demand that the change should be made. Report after report from chief constables and clergymen showed that these licences had not brought about drunkenness amongst the people of this country, and he looked with dread upon creating another monopoly. He hoped a Licensing Bill would be brought in which would be worthy of the Government; for this omnibus Bill, which dealt simply with clubs and other licensing matters, was not a Bill which was worthy of the Government at the present moment. When a new Government Bill was brought forward he hoped the great question of the licensing authority would be considered, for upon that everything depended and must hang. When the licensing authority was altered, then he thought that every kind of licence holder would willingly and readily come under that authority. He should vote against this proposal, because he felt that by adopting it they would be doing a great injustice, and the cause of temperance would be going back instead of forward, and they would be creating another Frankenstein for the Home Secretary to deal with, in the shape of another great monopoly, in the drink traffic which he would find it very difficult indeed to cope with.
§ (10.20.) MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
said that perhaps the hon. Member who had just sat down would pardon him for saying that the first part of his speech was contradicted by the latter part. He said that if this had been a comprehensive Measure and a good licensing Bill containing a proposal that all licences should be included, then, probably, he would have supported the Government.
§ Mr. JOHN BURNS
said the House of Commons had so few opportunities of dealing with the question of licensing and controlling a large trade, and supervising what many people had begun to believe was causing a deterioration of their national physique, and the embarrassment of our industrial supremacy which was threatening our commercial capacity, that they could not help seizing upon opportunities like this to vote for an instalment of temperance reform, even though they regarded it as a small stepping-stone. He ventured to submit that in trying to exclude grocers' licences from the purview of this Bill they were not acting as the friends of the publican. He contended that the man who sold liquor in a sealed bottle, probably to a young woman who went into the shop for tea and came out with whisky, should be subjected to exactly the same treatment in regard to control and supervision as the man who sold beer openly across a public-house bar and in an open quart pot. On the ground of equality of treatment, he protested against grocers' licences being exempted from the purview of this Bill.
The hon. Member opposite had said that there was a wonderful lack of evidence in support of the evils which had been alleged against grocers' licences. He wished to remind the House that both the majority and the minority of the Royal Commission, although they did not have much evidence before them upon this point, certainly came to the decision that all licences, both publicans' and grocers', ought to come within the purview of some licensing authority. That decision was enough for him. He did not care much about the evidence, providing they could get a fair consensus of opinion that a grocer's licence ought to toe the same line as a public house licence. He respected that view himself, when it was not the view of nontemperance men, but the balanced judgment of a Royal Commission. It seemed to him that they ought to go a bit further than the hon. Member's statement as to the lack of evidence of this point. What did this Bill do? It provided that all clubs, whether they were the rich men's 120 clubs in Belgravia or the poor men's clubs in Battersea or Bermondsey, should receive equality of treatment. He thought it was very creditable to those clubs that many of them had willingly consented to be included in this Clause, and to come within the purview of this licensing authority for the purpose of checking abuses, in some clubs which were started for genuine purposes but had since become mere "boozing" shops. If they put the rich man's club and the poor man's club on the same level, and brought them within the purview of this Bill, he contended that they ought to bring the grocers' licences under the same authority. His point was that there had been no differentiation between the clubs for the rich and the poor, who would all have to toe the same line under this Bill.
§ * MR. DISRAELI
And the rich man's wine merchant should be in exactly the same position as the poor man's wine merchant.
§ Mr. JOHN BURNS
said that if the hon. Member moved that he should support him. He could not agree with the argument that there should be free trade in liquor advanced by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. If there was a drink-cursed district in the whole Empire resulting from the remnants which prevailed of free trade in liquor, that place was Liverpool between 1856 and 1871. In this he thought the hon. Member for the Scotland Division was both inconsistent and illogical. If free trade in liquor did some good, why was the hon. Member not consistent, and why did he not vote for free trade in liquor to be made universal and apply to London as well as Liverpool. The hon. Member did not dare to advocate that, because past experience proved and demonstrated conclusively that control of the drink traffic had diminished drunkenness. The point made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division was that demand created supply, and not that supply created demand in liquor. He had the honour of representing a working class constituency, which afforded many illustrations in regard to the temperance question. In one area within his constituency 121 there were 1,200 houses with a population of 11,000 men, women, and children. He was glad to say that on that estate, thanks to the prescience and moral courage of Lord Shaftesbury, there was not a single public house or beer shop and there was not a pawnbroker's shop, and poverty there was relatively unknown. But if they crossed the line from this estate there they would find public houses far too frequent, and he thought he deserved some credit for having pointed out the difference between these two districts in his own constituency. The difference was most remarkable. Whether they went to the doctors or the clergymen—most of whom were Tories—or to the relieving officers, the sick visitors, or the nurses, the universal testimony was that where they had an extraordinary supply of public houses and beer shops there was stimulated an unreasonable and unhealthy demand for liquor, which spread the disease to an extent which every man could see if he would have the honesty to be a fair observer. Let them go to the constituency of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division for an example. Liverpool since 1889 had added 78,000 to its population, reduced its cases of drunkenness from 16,000 to 4,180, and crime from 926 to 522 per 100,000 of the population. During that period Liverpool had reduced its number of policemen by 100, and this improvement had effected a saving of £8,000 per annum to the rates, simply by having got rid of 345 licensed premises in eleven years.
§ Mr. JOHN BURNS
said his reply to that argument was that, if the same authority had had the power to reduce grocers' licences as the magistrates had had to reduce the number of public houses and beer houses, the reduction would have been considerably more.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member is going a little too far in discussing the effect of ree rade in licences in Liverpool. The discussion must be confined to what arc called grocers' licences.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
said he had in his hand the statistics for the City of Glasgow. The Scotch were supposed to be the best educated people in the world. [Cries of "Hear, hear," and "Agreed."] He thought that was quite true. In Glasgow the convictions for drunkenness, as given by an hon. Member of this House, were 7,117 males and 5,122 females. What was the connection of those figures with grocers' licences? He himself had been a life-long temperance man, and to that extent he might be regarded as prejudiced, but he was asking for the inclusion of grocers' licences in this Bill, because the best of the wives and daughters of the working classes and the lower middle classes, who had hitherto possessed too much self-respect to be seen in a beer shop or a low-class public house, did not hesitate to purchase liquors at grocers' shops. Public opinion exercised upon these women in regard to frequenting public houses some restraint, and they were afraid to enter them because their relatives might be told about it. The result was that a class which had hitherto been exempt from the temptations of drunkenness were enabled, when the craving for drink seized them, to satisfy that craving by purchasing liquors at the grocer's shop. These women brought the drink home, and quietly and steadily degraded themselves with it in the privacy of their own homes, until the husband discovered it, when it was invariably too late, and at a period when personal restraint was impossible and moral suasion of no use, and when she was on the point of qualifying for an inebriates' home. As one who lived three doors from a public house and five doors from an establishment with a grocers' licence, he was convinced that, from the point of view of sapping the moral fibre of the lower middle class, and the best of middle-class women, he feared more the deadly influence of the drink obtained at the grocers' than the drink purchased by the women who honestly and above board went into a public house, purchased a glass of bitter or stout, and came out again. The publican was restrained from soiling women too much, but there was no such restraint in the case of purchases at the grocer's shop. He had just been reading a paragraph in the Pall Mall Gazette, although as a rule he did not 123 quote that journal as an authority. In this case, however, the Pall Mall Gazette was quoting a better informed paper, and it said—In October, 1901, a doctor in great practice in the West End once said to me that where the public house slays its thousands the grocers' licence slays its tens of thousands.He believed that to be true. [An HON. MEMBER: What is the authority?] The extract he had read was from the Manchester Guardian, a paper which was better informed than the Globe and not so vulgar as the Pall Mall Gazette. He believed that the opinion of that doctor indicated the true state of things, and accounted for the great increase of drunkenness among women in Glasgow, Liverpool, London and elsewhere. He wished to point out how much more dangerous it was to have an increase of drunkenness amongst women than men.
Anyone who read the report of the Adjutant General on recruiting or the Army Medical Report would be almost shocked at the way in which the physique of our town population was deteriorating. He believed that, apart from bad homes and bad food, apart from the slow arsenical poisoning from beer houses and public houses, much of the deterioration which these reports indicated arose from the fact that among the working class and the lower class drunkenness on the part of women was considerably on the increase. It was remarkable that this deterioration synchronised with the growth of grocers' licences. Grocers in this matter ought, therefore, to be placed under the same supervision as the licensed victualler, who was subject to penalties from which the grocer was now altogether exempt. He hoped, therefore, that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, now that a Conservative Government had had the courage to deal with this subject, would support them in making the grocers toe the same line with regard to licensing supervision as publicans, who, with all their faults, conducted their trade open and above board.
§ *(10.47.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I do not propose, in the remarks I will address to the House, to enter into the larger questions which some hon. Members have touched 124 upon, because the mover and seconder of the Amendment have both frankly acknowledged that if they had their way they would have complete Free Trade in liquor all round.
§ Mr. HARWOOD
I beg your pardon. I objected to this portion of the licensing trade passing into a monopoly.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
Both on the Second Reading of the Bill and the other night when the hon. Member spoke I gathered from him that he objected to restrictions of any kind. He thought that the best way in dealing with the liquor traffic was to make it free and open.
§ Mr. HARWOOD
What I said was this. I objected to this remaining portion of the licensing field being a monopoly, at any rate until you have reformed the licensing authority in the way recommended by the majority and the minority of the Commission.
§ Mr. RITCHIE
Well, I merely mention the impression made on my mind by the speech of the hon. Member on this Bill. But that does not really affect my point at all. The object which the Government have in view in proposing the moderate temperance reform which is embodied in the Bill was an object which I understood commended itself to all those who desire some advance in temperance legislation. This has not proceeded from what I shall call the extreme temperance party at all. [An HON. MEMBER: It is supported by them.] I suppose the extreme temperance party would gladly support anything moderate if they were sensible, in the way of temperance reform, and the object of the Government was to give effect where possible to those portions of the recommendations which were jointly made by both sections of the Royal Commission. The House will remember that the Royal Commission appointed some years ago made two Reports—a majority Report and a minority Report. The Government have been pressed from many quarters to legislate on the lines of the minority Report. That in my opinion was a demand which could not be in any way justified. It is not usual I think in legislation to deal with the recommendations of a Commission in that way. It is rather the 125 practice, if the recommendations are adopted at all, to deal with the majority rather than the minority Report. We endeavoured to take out of the majority and the minority Reports those matters which I might almost say were the common recommendation of both sections of the Commission, but we did that with some modifications. For instance, the minority Report dealing with grocers' licences proposed that at the end of a period of five years it should be no longer possible to give so called grocers' licences, that is to say, "mixed trade" licences. That was a recommendation which the Government could not feel that they were able to adopt, and certainly I should not be disposed to do so, because I do not join with those who utterly condemn grocers' licences. We do not ground our proposal on any argument of that kind as I shall endeavour to show in the few remarks I have to make. The majority Report, on the other hand, unanimously recommended that those licences should be put under precisely the same conditions as off beer licences were put under in 1882; that is to say, instead of its being practically obligatory on the part of the magistrates to grant those licences, they should have their full and free control in regard to the matter. That was the portion of the Report, therefore, which we proposed to follow, and we have dealt with the matter in precisely the way recommended by the majority of the Commission.
§ Mr. HARWOOD:
May I ask whether the majority and the minority did not both recommend a revision of the licensing authority, and whether they did not recommend the dealing with the 30,000 off-beer licenses?
§ * MR. RITCHIE
They certainly recommended a revision of the licensing authority, but I am astonished that the hon. Gentlemen who are opposed to this Bill should think for a moment that that portion of the recommendation would have been advantageous to the interests they are endeavouring to promote. Moreover, if the hon. Gentlemen will be good enough to look at the majority Report of the Royal Commission, they will find that this portion of the recommendation was in no respect contingent upon a reform m the licensing 126 authority. The Commission recommended, with reference to grocers' licences that in all of them "full magisterial control and discretion should apply." Where is there anything said about changing the authority there? The Commission recommend not that they should be put under a new authority, but under full magisterial authority, and therefore when the hon. Gentleman argues that this should be taken together with a reform of the licensing authority he is arguing something which he is not justified in arguing from the report of the Commission. Let us see what was the composition of the majority who made this Report. I understand that our proposal is supposed to be objectionable both to grocers and to the trade generally. Sixteen members signed the majority Report on this point: eight of these were trade representatives; seven were neutral; and one temperance. The trade members consisted of three brewers for England and Wales, one brewer for Scotland, two licensed victuallers, one off licence holder, and one distiller from Ireland. That was the composition of that portion of the Commission which recommended the plan we are now proposing to the House. It was unanimous. Although some members of the Commission made reservations with regard to some of the points with respect to which they signed the Report, there was not one of the members who made the smallest reservation to what they proposed in this matter. It is a very striking fact that there was one member who was put on for the express purpose of representing those grocers' licences, and he was the member of the firm that has been instrumental in organising opposition to the Clause. He signed the Report of the Commission which recommended the very plan we are now proposing to the House.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
He signed the Report I am quoting, and the recommendation was that those licences should be dealt with in the way we propose, and there was no question whatever of a change of the licensing authority involved in that portion of the Report which I am now dealing with. I have 127 shown that you have the unanimous recommendation of the majority, upon which the trade was fully represented, and that the representative of the off-licence holders signed the Report without qualification. Our proposal has also been supported by a large number of County Councils, a large number of standing joint committees; and forty towns in England desire to be represented on a deputation urging me to proceed with the proposal in the Bill. I need hardly say that hundreds of public meetings, and all the temperance societies throughout the country are also in favour of the proposal. May I say also that a very remarkable report was made by the Justices of Manchester? In their annual report for 1901 they strongly urge that we should adopt the plan we are now proposing. I have said that we do not base this proposal upon the allegation which has been made with regard to the conduct of the houses which are dealt with. I may, say with regard to what has been said by the hon. Gentleman opposite as to there being no police complaints against them that that is easily accounted for. It is because police supervision is engaged mainly with disorderly conduct. Clearly there cannot be that kind of disorder which would attract the attention of the police in cases where licences are simply off-licences. I say, when it is pleaded that this Act should not apply to grocers' licences because there are no complaints against the houses, that we do not base our argument upon that at all. With regard to the intemperance of women, it cannot be gainsaid that it has grown with great rapidity during the last twenty years or so, and in that period grocers' licences have just about exactly doubled. How has the mortality from intemperance gone on both in men and women during the last twenty years? According to the Registrar General's Returns for the twenty years ended in 1896 it increased by 104 per cent. on the part of women, and only 43 per cent. on the part of men. During that time grocers' licences grew from about 5,000 to over 10,000. It is a very curious fact that grocers' licences have grown in almost exact proportion to the intemperance in women. As has been stated more than once in the House, there is no doubt that medical opinion is strongly in favour of some legislation on this matter. It 128 has been stated by an able medical journal, the Lancet, that there ha; been a great growth of intemperance among women in consequence of grocers' licences sowing the seeds of intemperance among them, which have led to very disastrous results. Surely my hon. friend will not think it unfair on my part that I should quote the increase with reference to women if it be the case at all that there is any connection between the two. Surely, it is a strong argument that some attempt should be made to stop the increase of those licences which may lead to very serious results in regard to intemperance among women. The House of Lords Committee's Report of 1879 has been quoted. It has been said that the House of Lords Committee in their Report did not recommend that there should be any change made in the matter, but they go on to say something which is very rarely quoted. That Committee said—Should the evils, however, apprehended by some witnesses from the multiplication or abuse of these licences, eventually occur, it may become the duty of the legislature to consider what further restrictions should be imposed on their issue.I contend that, these licences having doubled since the Lords Committee of 1879 reported, it is high time that the House should be asked to put some check on the increase which may take place, unless some steps, such as are proposed, are adopted by the House. Where is it that the opposition to these proposals proceeds from, mainly? It is assumed, in discussing the question of grocers' licences, that every grocer conducts his own business on his own foot, and that he has invested large capital in this business, which is now to be interfered with. As a matter of fact, it is perfectly notorious that an immense number of these licence holders are mere agents for a large wine and spirit house. It is well known to every Member of this House. [An hon. Member: "Why not?"] I am stating a fact, and it is no answer to the reasons which I have brought forward for the Clause that if these licences are interfered with, it will be a great hardship to those who are conducting their business on their own account.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
I am alluding to a notorious fact that this opposition, which is supposed to come from many quarters, really comes from one centre. An hon. friend of mine in this House told me the other day that he had four telegrams from his constituency asking him to vote against this proposal with regard to grocers' licences. He told me he sent down to his agent in the country asking him to find out who these men were. He wrote to him that every one of these men were the agents of the firm to which he alluded. I believe that is the general experience of those who have received representations on this matter, namely, that they proceed from one centre, and that they proceed from those persons who placard every tramcar in the Metropolis that they have no fewer than 3,000 agents among grocers. I am merely stating a fact, and I am arguing from that that it is not the case that in dealing with these licences we are dealing with a vast number of persons who have embarked their capital in this business. In many cases the stock which the grocers have is not their own, and the firm for whom they are agents pay the licence duty and practically conduct the business. It is said that these licences are to be abolished. That is not the case at all. The Act of 1882 places "off" beer licences under the control of the magistrates. The number of these licences in 1882 was about 19,000, and the number which existed in 1901 was 18,865, so that the Act did not, as it was said it would, sweep them all away, What the Act did do was to stop the increase of these licences, which had been going on with great rapidity, and they were not dealt with in the rough and ready way which the hon. Gentleman said they were. A question has been asked as to whether a grocer whose present licence is taken away by the local bench would have a right of appeal. The Government have inserted a sub-Clause granting an adequate appeal. Not one single complaint has ever been made against the Act of 1882, and all that we propose is to deal with the grocers' licences in precisely the same way, and place them under the same control, as the beer licences. The question which the House has got to 130 decide is whether they should ignore the joint Report of the two sections of the Royal Commission on this particular point, and practically to say that these licences should go on increasing indefinitely. The result of such an increase has been pointed out by many benches of magistrates who are endeavouring to meet the evils due to such a large extent to an excess of licensed houses in their district. By arrangement a great diminution has been effected in the number of these licences in various parts of the country, and this with the perfect good-will of the brewers, who have found their ex penses greatly diminished thereby. Yet these efforts are largely neutralised by the fact that "off" licences can multiply almost without check. Having regard to the fact that this Clause is based on the Report of the Royal Commission, that it is in strict accord with previous legislation, and that it is demanded by all classes of people in the country — by county councils, magistrates, joint committees of county councils, and by temperance associations of all kinds — I have no hesitation in asking the House to pass this moderate measure of temperance legislation, which will inflict no hard-ship on any one, and will be a very considerable step in the direction of temperance.
§ (11.14.) COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said he regarded this Clause as an endeavour to cripple a most respectable trade by means of fresh legislation. The Home Secretary had made an attack upon the firm of Messrs. Gilbey because they had organised an opposition to this Clause in the belief that it would injure their trade. The right hon. Gentleman said that certain Members of the House had received four telegrams from Messrs. Gilbey urging them to vote against the Bill. But he maintained that that respectable firm, in so doing, were only exercising their undoubted right and privilege in endeavouring to place the views of the trade fairly before the House. He was not going to take any notice of the right hon. Gentle- 131 man's taunt, and would vote according to his conviction. They had heard from the outspoken Member for Battersea that drink was the curse of the English nation; but that was a fault which all of them hoped would be cured in time. Another hon. Member had enlarged on the evils of drink, and said that the present licensing system was illogical and confusing, and that what was wanting was uniformity. That was true, but why should they fall on the grocers' licences in order to obtain uniformity? The hon. Gentleman had said that there was no evidence before the Royal Commission in regard to the habit of drinking by women, but that if the doctors or the heads of inebriate homes were consulted it would be found that women and children were the principal sufferers from the grocers' licences. If that were so, why did not he and his friends go before the Royal Commission and have that evidence inserted in the Blue-book? If there was a direct connection, as the Home Secretary had alleged, between female drunkenness and female mortality and grocers' licences, they ought not to adopt the medium course proposed by the Bill but to abolish them altogether. He regretted very much having to vote, against his colleague, but he would certainly do so, in the belief that they were not acting very fairly by this Clause to this particular trade.
§ * Mr. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said he should like to say a few words in reference to this question from an entirely neutral point of view. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Battersea that while the publicans had made their hundreds off drunkards, the grocers had made their thousands. He did not intend to vote for this Clause on the 132 ground that he thought it would involve the complete extinction of all those grocers who were carrying on an extremely important trade. He was actuated by no such reason. He agreed that this question should be logically dealt with. The alternative to the proposition in the Clause had been admirably stated by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division and the hon. Member for Bolton. The Amendment raised the old controversial issue between free and regulated trade, and they had in a new form to discuss over again a question which had agitated Parliament for over 300 years, viz., whether the liquor trade in the various developments which it had exhibited as society changed its form should, or should not, be subjected to some measure of regulation. Let him ask the House what were the reasons by which Parliament had been guided in regulating the trade in liquors, and vesting the control of the trade in justices of the peace. If any one looked at the Acts of Parliament passed under the Stuarts, it would be found that the object with which this control was given to the magistrates was to check drunkenness, and to prevent "the haunting of inns and tippling houses." They were now dealing with the sale of intoxicating beverages in depots which were not places of public resort, but places where ordinary retail trade was carried on. If it had been demonstrated in fact that the trade conducted at the places in question tended to promote drunkenness, there was a case within principles which had been consistently applied for supporting this Clause, In 1882 Parliament passed a Statute which gave the justices absolute discretion in regard to off-licences dealing with the trade in beer. Was there any opponent of this Clause ingenious enough to suggest a logical distinction, that could 133 be expressed in intelligible terms, by which beer could be placed in one category and spirits in another? By the Statute passed in 1882 the justices had absolute discretion with regard to all off-licences relating to the trade in beer, and, therefore, before the grocer could sell his bottled beer he had to submit the conduct of that trade to the discretion of a bench of magistrates. If it was right in 1882 to give the justices absolute discretion in regard to the sale of beer, it might well be said that twenty years afterwards the same necessity had arisen to regulate the trade in spirits, which was probably more injurious than the trade in beer. No doubt beer was formerly more likely to encourage drunkenness than spirits were, but it did not follow that that was the case today. He submitted that the recommendations of the Royal Commission, coupled with the fact that the legislation of 1882 created a precedent, logically committed the House to extend the provisions of that Act, and to leave the control of grocers' licences to the judicial discretion of the magistrates. They could not leave the law as it now stood. It was illogical and inconsistent, and led to the growth of an evil which could not be checked, and therefore when the Government came forward in courageous opposition to a large body of feeling among their own supporters, he trusted that they would receive the support of every Member on the Liberal benches.
§ * Mr. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said he should like to take the same attitude as the Home Secretary in limiting the discussion to the Amendment before the House, because if they followed his hon. and learned friend opposite they would open a very large field of inquiry. 134 He thought it was extremely important to see on what grounds the Home Secretary justified the proposals contained in the present Bill, and also to see how far he had dealt with the objection legitimately raised to his proposed means of treating grocers' licences. There were only two arguments used in favour of the Home Secretary's proposals, and neither of them was sound, or would justify the proposal in the Bill. The Home Secretary imagined that those Members who were opposed to the particular method of dealing with grocers' licences were influenced by one or two telegrams which they had received from their constituents. It was a paltry suggestion that they could be influenced one iota by these telegrams.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
said that what he had stated was that the organisation against the Bill had been got up by Messrs Gilbey. He did not mean to imply for a moment that hon. Members took up an attitude contrary to their convictions.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
He accepted at once what had been said by the Home Secretary that no hon. Member was in the least likely to be influenced by those telegrams; and he did not know why they had been referred to at all. The other argument used by the Home Secretary was based on the recommendations of the majority Report of the Royal Commission. He would, first of all, point out that what was proposed in the Bill was nothing like the recommendations of the majority Report. But apart from the Royal Commission altogether, they had perfect liberty in questions of that kind to argue the matter out, and discover what the truth was. Did the majority Report really recommend what was in the Bill? He said certainly not. 135 The proposal in the Bill was simply to put grocers' licences on the same footing as ordinary licences. That differed in three very important respects from the proposal in the majority Report. First of all, the Report proposed an alteration in the tribunal. He was not saying a word against the magistrates, but it was the manner in which the law was administered, especially in licensing cases, that was important, as there were no fixed rules for the guidance of the tribunal. It was of importance in giving new control to consider the character of the body to whom it was given, and it seemed to him absurd, if he might say so, to call in the aid of the majority Report of the Royal Commission when an essential part of that Report was to alter the controlling authority, which it was not proposed to alter in the Bill.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
said that surely his hon. friend had not the words of the Report in his mind. It distinctly said "magisterial."
§ * MR. CRIPPS
said it was a question of the conditions under which the control was exercised. The Royal Commission very rightly reported a suggestion by which the vast amount of prejudice so often introduced into licensing cases might be minimised. Magistrates did not always act in what he might call a judicial spirit; and the conditions oftentimes did not permit of judicial test. He maintained that it would be an immense alteration if the majority Report were brought into force, as regarded the body by which the so-called control was to be exercised. The grocers' licences were selected because they were the least able to protect themselves between the trade on the one side, and the teetotal 136 party on the other. The Home Secretary had taken the line of least resistance, when he omitted to deal with the ante-1869 beer houses from which the real evil arose. The Royal Commission stated in the strongest terms that where the conditions of a trade were altered to its detriment, that ought to be coupled with a measure of compensation. From a Conservative point of view, that was an extremely important consideration. He did not want to give up the principle which was the essence of Conservative feeling on the subject, and where there were recommendations detrimental to a particular trade, there ought to be compensation. The opposite was in his opinion a gross interference with the rights of a minority, because a particular trade was always in a minority. Therefore, it seemed to him absurd, when they found a proposal in a Bill based on the majority Report, that the substantial recommendations of that Report, which differentiated it from the minority Report, should have been omitted altogether. Anyone reading the two Reports would come to the conclusion that the proposals in the Bill were based on the minority Report, and substantially on the minority Report only. The majority Report was in favour of control with compensation.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
said he denied that the majority Report contained, with reference to the point now under discussion, any proposal for compensation as regarded grocers' licences. When dealing with full licences they said there should be full compensation. When dealing with ante-1869 beer houses, they said there ought to be compensation; but when they dealt with the question of putting grocers' licences under full magisterial control, there was not a single word about compensation.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
said he could only differ with the Home Secretary on the point, as in his opinion no one could read the majority Report without seeing that it said a great deal about compensation for grocers' licences. They had dealt with it in a double form. They said that grocers' licences were to be contributories to the compensation fund, and were to have the benefit of that fund if their just interests were interfered with. He agreed that they ought not to benefit remaining licences, and that, therefore, the remaining licences ought to provide the compensation fund themselves. Nothing could be more just than that principle; it was the principle adopted in the majority Report and applied specifically to grocers' licences. What was the nature of the business carried on under grocers' licences? It was a business of the most harmless kind, and nothing had been proved as regarded its general conduct. It enabled people to be more temperate and more moderate, by escaping the temptations of the public-house, and by providing them with drink which they could enjoy at home. No harm had been proved against that class of licence, and not a word in the majority Report suggested that they had not been properly carried on. He begged the Home Secretary to read the majority Report again. From beginning to end of it there was no allegation of any sort or kind against grocers' licences. He need not go into sententious platitudes as to how they all abominated drunkenness as a crime in itself, and the mother of still worse crimes. They were all agreed as to that. But where they had a trade harmlessly conducted, were they going to interfere with it because of isolated cases of individual misconduct. If that principle were adopted, every free trade in the country 138 would disappear. Were they going to stop the butcher or the baker? No more had been proved against grocers licences than against any other legitimate trade in the country. Let them punish any licencee heavily who misconducted himself, but it was the worst possible principle of legislation to attack a whole trade or trade interest, merely because of individual cases of misconduct. As to the question of one control, there was, as a matter of fact, one control up to a certain point. No grocers' licence could be obtained unless the magistrates were satisfied both as to the character of the individual and the character of the premises in which the trade was to be carried on. Those were the two guarantees that were required. If greater protection against misconduct were required, no one would object to it. But that was not what was proposed in the Bill. They proposed to interfere with a legitimate trade against which no general case had been established, either with reference to its conduct or to its effect on the public. He appealed to Conservative feeling in the House not to attack a particular trade which was conducting a harmless business in a moderate manner. A trade of that kind should not be interfered with, unless some substantial case was made out against it. It certainly should not be interfered with on the flimsy pretence of individual cases of misconduct, which proved nothing at all, except as against the individuals concerned.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said he thought many hon. Members and the public at large were very much indebted to the Government for taking 139 up what had always been a thorny question; and he felt that they ought to give the Government their support in the very moderate scheme of temperance reform they had put before the House. His hon. and learned friend who had just spoken prefaced his observations by saying that he did not think it was a case in which they ought to apply the principles of logic, and he certainly has carried that out. His hon. and learned friend asked why should they interfere with a trade properly carried on, and if they did interfere with it, why should they not also interfere with the butcher and the baker? That was to say that his hon. and learned friend desired to re-open the settled policy of the country in regard to intoxicating liquor. His hon. and learned friend's argument really
§ re-opened the whole question, and if carried to its logical conclusion, it would mean Free Trade all round. Parliament had decided, however, that that trade should he kept under magisterial control. He asked, Would any hon. Member attempt to show why in that matter beer and spirits should be dealt with differently, and why one should be under control and the other should not? He ventured to think that no reason whatever had been shown why they should not support the Government in this very useful legislation with reference to temperance.
§ (11.55.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 298; Noes, 68, (Division List No. 248.)143
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Bull, William James||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Bullard, Sir Harry||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Burns, John||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-|
|Allan, William (Gate-head)||Butcher, John George||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Allen, Charles P.(Glouc., Stroud||Caine, William Sproston||Doogan, P. C.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Caldwell, James||Doughty, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cameron, Robert||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Carson. Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J. (Manch'r||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Birm.||Ellis, John Edward|
|Balfour, RtHnGerald W.(Leeds||Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r||Emmott, Alfred|
|Balfour, Kenneth R.(Christen.||Channing, Francis Allston||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Chapman, Edward||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Beach, RtHn. SirMichael Hicks||Charrington, Spencer||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C.B.||Clancy, John Joseph||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Bigwood, James||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Finch, George H.|
|Bill, Charles||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Black, Alexander William||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Blundell, Colonel Heney||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||FitzGerald, Sir RobertPenrose-|
|Boland, John||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Craig, Robert Hunter||Flower, Ernest|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Cranborne, Viscount||Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S.W|
|Brassey, Albert||Crean, Eugene||Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H(City of Lond.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Crossley,. Sir Savile||Gilhooly, James|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Dalkeith, Earl of||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Runciman, Walter|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Russell, T. W.|
|Grant, Corrie||Maconochie, A. W.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stop ford-|
|Green, Walford D(Wednesbury||M' Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Greene, Sir EW(BryS Edm'nds||M'Govern, T.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||M'Kenna, Reginald||Sehwann, Charles E.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Scott, Chap. Prestwich (Leigh|
|Hain, Edward||Majendie, James A. H.||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Manners, Lord Cecil||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G.(Mid'x||Maxwell. W.J. H. (Dumfriessh.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Milvain, Thomas||Sinclair, Louis (Rom ford)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Smith, HC (North'mb. Tyneside|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.|
|Harris Frederick Leverton||Morgan. David J(Walth'mstow||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Spear, John Ward|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morrell, George Herbert||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R.(Northants|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Morrison, James Archibald||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Muntz, Philip A.||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.||Murnaghan, George||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Helder, Augustus||Murray, John||Stock, James Henry|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute||Stroyan, John|
|Henderson, Alexander||Murray. Charles J. (Coventry)||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Higginbottom, S. W.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hope, J.F. (Sheffied, Brightside, E||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid||Talbot, Rt Hn. J.G.(Oxf'd Univ.|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan. E.|
|Hormman, Frederick John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Howard, Jno.(Kent Faversham||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Thompson, DrEC(Monagh'n, N|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Parker, Gilbert||Tomkinson, James|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Partington, Oswald||Toulmin, George|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Paulton, James Mellor||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Joyce, Michael||Peel, Hn. Wm Robert Wellesley||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds, S.|
|Lambert, George||Pemberton, John S. G.||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Langley, Batty||Pilkington, Lieut. -Col. Richard||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Laurie, Lieut. -General||Pirie, Duncan V.||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Plummer, Walter R.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Whitley, George (York, W. R.|
|Lawson, John Grant||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whiteley, H (Ashton-und. Lyne|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Randles, John S.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Leamy, Edmund||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Farcham||Rea, Russell||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Reckitt, Harold James||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, Fred, W.(Norfolk, Mid.|
|Leng, Sir John||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wilson, J.W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Renwick, George||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H.(Yorks.)|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Rickett, J. Compton||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Lloyd-George, David||Ridley. Hn. M. W.(Staly bridge||Wood, James|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S)||Rigg, Richard||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Lough, Thomas||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wyndham, Rt, Hon. George|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Lundon, W.||Roe, Sir Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Sir William Walrond and|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Mr. Anstruther|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Banbury, Frederick George||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bond, Edward||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Austin, Sir Joha||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Purvis, Robert|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||John stone, Heywood (Sussex)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Cremer, William Randal||Leigh, Bennett, Henry Currie||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Reddy, M.|
|Delany, William||Lowe, Francis William||Robinson, Brooke|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roche, John|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Kean, John||Rolleston, Sir John F. L..|
|Flynn, James Christopher||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Rutherford, John|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Gordon, Maj Evans- (T'r H'ml 'ts||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Gore, Hn G.R.C. Ormbsy-(Salop||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Thornton, Percy N.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tully, Jasper|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.)||O'Cornor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Grenfell, William Henry||O'Dowd, John||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C.B. Stuart-|
|Gretton, John||O'Malley, William|
|Groves, James Grimble||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Pierpoint, Robert||Mr. Harwood and Mr.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Disraeli.|
§ It being after Midnight, Further Consideration, as amended (by the Standing Committee), stood adjourned till Friday.